by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Sarah Zorn and best friend Curtis have a mutually agreed upon plan: pretend they are a couple so everyone at their school will leave them alone. Only outspoken Emily Friend (not friendly at all! ) is onto them. She teases Sarah and says she knows that they're not a couple.
Sarah's quirky, hippie grandmother Z asks Sarah to travel to Italy with her in the summer. After some discussion, Sarah's parents reluctantly agree. Sarah records her travels, trials and tribulations in this journal. When Curtis finds out Sarah is leaving for Italy, he is upset and they do not speak to each other before she departs.
In Italy, Sarah and Z visit numerous outdoor caffes (cafes) and drink delicious Italian coffees and eat gelato. They visit cathedrals, fountains and ruins. Sarah reports each place and how she would describe it to Curtis if she sent him a post card. She doesn't. Each day, the two travelers visit another church and are "pilgrims." Sarah can't believe how much walking they are doing. They fall into bed exhausted each night.
Grandma Z becomes sad on her birthday and Sarah doesn't know why. When a family secret is finally spilled, Sarah is shocked. This is the real reason they came all the way to Italy? On a whim....from the past? Returning home, Sarah and Z have to unravel the past to claim the present.
Z is fun and feisty; a free spirit from the golden days of hippie-dom. She tends to live her life in the moment--which is great--until it effects the people around you. Sarah is supposed to be fourteen and off to her first year of high school, but she seems quite sheltered and younger than fourteen years old.
Recommended for grade 7-up and anyone who likes a sweet read. Italy comes alive in the pages of Sarah's journal.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)